Tasmanian Sea lions spend the day sunbathing, swimming or fighting in the waters surrounding the island.
The so–called sea lions and elephant seals belong to the same family, but, despite the name, they are not seals at all.
Here in Tasmania there are huge colonies along the rocky coast, right along the line of the split from Gondwana. The harems of females are protected by large, powerful males, always on the lookout for invaders.
The sea lions and elephant seals, in contrast to true seals, have small, visible ears at the sides of their huge heads; and they can move upright on land with relative ease, thanks to their limbs, which are much more functional than those of their cousins. On craggy land, an elephant seal can move faster than a man.
When they are not busy sunbathing, or fighting, the elephant seals swim, which they do very well.
They row with simultaneous movements of their hands, as if flying, and hardly using the rear fins, as a seal would.
They dive down into the water, normally remaining submerged for around five minutes, looking for squid, octopus and fish.
The interesting thing about these Australian ‘seals’ is that we can also find them much further away, five thousand kilometres from here, across the Antarctic, on the frozen coasts of Tierra del Fuego, in South America.
This is the other edge of the former Gondwana, and despite the distance the scene is almost the same. These fur seals and sea lions, are physically and socially identical to their brothers in Tasmania.
But the similarities don’t stop there. When the supercontinent had begun to break apart, Australia, South America and the Antarctic remained connected for some time longer, also sharing the ancient leaf forests of Gondwana.
The final refuge of these austral beech trees are precisely in Tierra del Fuego ... and in Tasmania.
These forests of notophagus are the legacy of the dead heart
of Gondwana, the surviving vegetation of a primeval landscape.
Australia then became an isolated continent Our Terra Incógnita Australis largely turned to desert, thus starting down the path of separate evolution, and below, the small island of Tasmania, the green island.